“Designed specifically for AT&T to set telephone directories by Chauncey Griffith at Mergenthaler in 1938, Bell Gothic was the standard American directory typeface for forty years. Limited in performance by linecaster matrix requirements, Bell Gothic was replaced by Bell Centennial.” — Bitstream/MyFonts
ParaType’s version — based on Bitstream’s — has Cyrillics (1999). It is the only one to feature italics, which were added in 2009. Both expansions were made by Isabella Chaeva.
See also Griffith Gothic, a revival and expansion with 6 weights plus italics and condensed styles.